When people in California gift shop for loved ones, they will likely encounter counterfeit items during their search. According to the International Trademark Association, the estimated value of counterfeit items sold around the world in one year could reach up to $2.81 trillion. In 2017 alone, the damage from counterfeit products likely cost U.S. companies $1 trillion. With the rapid growth of online sales, the prevalence of counterfeit goods is only increasing. However, there are numerous defenses that companies can try to utilize to protect themselves from counterfeiters, even during busy shopping seasons like the winter holidays.
Lost sales that go instead to fraudulent products only cover a portion of the losses due to trademark infringement. Counterfeiting is different than simple trademark infringement although it is similar in some ways. Infringement is about introducing confusion in the market, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Counterfeiting is deliberately attempting to pass off fake items as the real product, not just introducing confusion. Additional counterfeit related losses a company may face are returns and warranty claims linked to defective counterfeits. Furthermore, the company’s reputation can take a hit if people become accustomed to using inferior counterfeit items and can’t distinguish that the products are fake.
When companies proactively work to protect their trademarks, it can also help in positively addressing counterfeiting issues. Companies should always make sure that their trademark registrations reflect their actual use so that companies can be ready to take action if a counterfeiting issue appears or even a simple infringement concern occurs. In addition, companies may want to pay attention to various online marketplaces, social media networks, and sales venues to develop a strategy for identifying and reporting trademark misuse.
Counterfeiting can be seriously damaging to business owners because it can lead to both lost income and undermined company reputations. An intellectual property attorney may assist companies in developing a strategy to protect their trademarks and take action in case of trademark misappropriation or infringement.